A child in car seat
Parents looking for booster seats beware, as a leading car safety group has found up to half of booster seats aren't that safe. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has released a study asserting half of booster seats it tested weren’t safe for children. Testing revealed that a wide range of booster seats caused seat belts to fit improperly, raising risk of injuries.

Designers did not buckle down to ensure proper belt fit

Many parents put their children in booster seats until around age eight and a fair number of states mandate it. However, a leading car safety research group asserts many of them are lacking.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, according to USA Today, recently released its annual survey of children’s car booster seats. The IIHS rates booster seats on how well the seat belt fits upon placing a child into the booster seat. If the seat belt needs to be adjusted to fit properly when a typical four- to eight-year-old is placed in the seat, it gets a lower grade.

The IIHS gave 41 of the 83 seats it tested a “check-fit” rating, meaning that the seat belt needs adjustment once the child is in the seat. Of the remaining seats tested, 31 were given a “good bet” or “best bet” rating, which the IIHS recommends parents buy.

Cost not a factor

According to ABC, the IIHS issued a “best bet” or “good bet” rating to only 21 seats last year, so the industry seems to be improving. Intricacy and expense of the seat were not found to be factors.

A booster seat can consist of little more than a plastic frame and foam pad, similar to stadium chairs that adults take to sporting events. Several of those received “Best Bet” ratings, including the BubbleBum seat. The BubbleBum is inflatable and retails for $40. Another “Best Bet” seat with a similar design, according to the Wall Street Journal, is the Harmony Youth Booster Seat. It retails for $14.

The IIHS found that six models caused the seat belt to fit so poorly that the organization doesn’t recommend anyone buy them. The Case, Generations 65, Express and Sightseer seats by Evenflo and the All-In-One and Alpha Omega Elite booster seats by SafetyFirst were all panned by the IIHS for making belting in a child properly all but impossible. However, other SafetyFirst and Evenflo booster seats were “Best Bets.”

Precious cargo

Studies have shown, according to USA Today, that putting a child in a booster seat can reduce the chance of injuries in a crash by up to 45 percent compared to just seat belts. States that require children up to age eight to be in booster seats recorded up to 17 percent fewer fatalities or serious injuries among children in car crashes.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to ABC, asserts that car seats, including infant car seats, reduce child fatalities by 54 percent in car crashes. Children age three to six and eight to 14 are more likely to be killed in a car crash than by any other cause.


USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/money/autos/story/2011-10-13/booster-seats/50747988/1

ABC: http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/booster-seats-offer-boost/story?id=14724233

Wall Street Journal: http://blogs.wsj.com/drivers-seat/2011/10/13/insurance-institute-rates-child-booster-seats/?mod=google_news_blog

ABC: http://abcnews.go.com/GMA/Parenting/child-safety-car-seats/story?id=8867880

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